- Write, revise, incubate, revise again till you just cannot see another improvement.
- Show your work to those friendly but honest first readers to give you feedback. Consider their comments carefully and act accordingly.
- Survey the market: read samples and archives from poetry publications and decide if you have something to offer any of them. If you're very new to the game (and that's how I think of this--as a game), probably you should not aim for the paying markets. The competition will discourage you. If you can find the name of the poetry editor, jot that down, along with her/his contact info.
- Learn to use (and support) Duotrope, a valuable online reference to publications and a place to record your submissions. Bookkeeping is part of the process--where and when a particular poem was submitted, what the result was, which publication has already rejected or accepted the work.
- Keep a notebook for hard copies of submission guidelines; write on each one the poems and the date when you contacted them. READ them and abide scrupulously by the various ways to contact editorial teams.
- Create a fairly standard, short cover letter. Don't try to dazzle the editors with BS. That's all the excuse a busy editor needs to weed you out of the current crop of submissions.
- Create a bio, usually 50-75 words that you can paste into the cover letter.
- Learn patience. Even with the abundance of online and print markets, it often takes months to get a response. Meanwhile, write more poems. Read more poetry mags and e-zines. Keep growing your garden of verse.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Beating Poetry Submissions into Shape
At breakfast yesterday with Lars, one of the poets I mentioned in my previous blog, we talked about the process of submitting poems for publication. He's beginning that daunting job now that he has a fair-sized body of work in his blue binder. Here's the general process as we defined it: